Hurricane Iota impacts 357,339 people in Honduras

Hurricane Iota was barreling through Central America on Tuesday hours after making landfall as the strongest Atlantic storm this year along a stretch of Nicaraguan coast devastated by a powerful storm just two weeks ago. Orlando SIERRA  AFP

Iota weakens to tropical depression after bringing catastrophic damage to Nicaragua

Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador already suffering from the effects of Eta and the coronavirus were now forced closer toward an even larger humanitarian crisis, Oxfam International said in a statement calling on the international community for aid.

Officials reported at least four deaths around the region, and said other people were unaccounted for.

"We're flooded everywhere, the rain lasted nearly all night and now it stops for an hour then comes back for two to three hours", said Marcelo Herrera, mayor of Wampusirpi, a municipality in the interior of northeast Honduras crossed by rivers and streams. Iota is also the first Category 5 storm of the hurricane season.

The storm has since weakened, and as of 9 p.m. CST Tuesday, Iota was packing only 40 mph winds about 25 miles south-southwest of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.

"We're all scared for our lives", said Magdalena Bell, who had taken refuge in a shelter in Puerto Cabezas.

Numerous people of Miskito are descendants of indigenous groups along with Africans who escaped from slavery and those castaways believed to have survived a 17th-century slave shipwreck. It also developed later in the season than any other Category 5 storm on record, topping a November 8, 1932, Cuba hurricane, said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

At least eight people are dead and several countries in Central America teeter on the precipice of a humanitarian crisis after Hurricane Iota slammed the region overnight Monday.

Earlier, the government said 98% of the island's infrastructure had been destroyed, Al Jazeera reported. "The Barra Patuca sector has been flooded for the last two weeks", said Teonela Paisano Wood, mayor of the Honduran town of Brus Laguna.

Two people died on Providencia island, part of Colombia's Caribbean archipelago near the coast of Central America, after it was clipped by Iota. Experts say that hurricane Iota is much bigger than hurricane Eta.

"We are very concerned about the potential for deadly landslides in these areas as the soil is already completely saturated", IFRC spokesman Matthew Cochrane told a media briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

The threat of flash flooding and mudslides continue.

"We are in the hands of God".

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